Soon… so that I can get my herb garden going.
Buying bagged soil is going to cost Tom and I a small fortune.
Over $70 I estimated for just this one box.
And I have several other containers and pots that need to be filled, too.
Even though we spent over $500 to fill our three raised beds with garden soil, this type of soil is just too heavy when growing in pots.
It’s time to make my own potting soil that is both lighter and more airy than garden soil.
Are you in? Want to make your own potting soil and save some serious cash?
Great if you happen to have trash bags filled with rotted leaves that have been decaying for at least two years.
But if you don’t, some substitutions can be made.
A quick example is how anyone can get their hands on some clean sand. Sand works well to increase texture and improve drainage for plants that don’t like to get waterlogged.
Even better is the addition of perlite! Perlite is an ingredient that no good potting soil can live without.
Tom acquired a bag of sawdust from the technology teacher at school, but it’s far from the “rotted” state I need it to be in for my soil mix.
So for now, I’ll have to do the best I can with the best ingredients I can find.
The problem is that these three ingredients are lacking in nutrients.
Real potting soil, the kind all gardeners made 50 years ago would have included their best garden soil with rotted manure from the barn and leaf mold.
And yet, there’s no perfect formula.
I’ll be adding some manure, humus, sand, wood ash, blood meal, mushroom compost, saw dust and the best leaf mold I can find.
Not completely broken down but it will eventually break down in my planter box.
I can always tweak my soil down the road depending on how my plants do.
Here’s what you need to make your own potting soil:
- Vermiculite (Improves water and nutrient holding, prevents soil compaction, neutral pH)
- Compost (High in organic matter and therefore supports friendly microoganisms)
- Perlite (Improves drainage & aeration)
- 5-gallon bucket
- Wheelbarrow to mix in
Here’s what you might want to add to make your own potting soil:
- Manure & humus (Loaded in nutrients and helps soil retain water)
- Mushroom compost (Improves clay & sandy soil)
- Sand (Lightens soil and improves texture)
- Wood Ash or lime (Helps improve soil structure & root development, high in calcium. Raises soil pH)
- Rotted leaves or rotted sawdust (untreated wood only) if you have any on hand
- Blood meal (for nitrogen)
- Bone meal (for phosphorus)
- Kelp Meal (Chock-full of nutrients)
- Topsoil (why not throw in an extra bag if you have it already lying around?)
Instructions on how to make your own potting soil:
Not only is it bigger to mix in, but then I can just wheel it around to where I want to spread my dirt.
- Mix one part peat moss, vermiculite and compost. The easiest way is just to grab a bucket and throw one bucket of each part into your mixing container.
- Next, I added a half bucket of perlite. Can you even have enough perlite? Nope. Love this stuff for aeration!
- Add a little water and give it a good stir with a shovel
- Now it’s time to add a scoop of your fertilizer. Obviously chicken poop would be great right now but I don’t have any so I’ll have to settle for some store bought fertilizer.
- And because I’m not a perfectionist, I went ahead and added a scoop of wood ash, blood meal and sand. Then I added 1/2 cup of lime.
- Last, I threw in my manure/humus mixture, the best leaf mold I could scrap up from the garden and some compost, both bagged and natural. I even threw in a handful of sawdust, though not rotted, will break down in the pot. I stumbled across a bag of mushroom compost which I threw in a bucket of as well.
What we paid to make our own potting soil:
And keep in mind, all the ingredients have several uses so what I don’t use now will get repurposed down the road.
Take the sand, for example, what I don’t use goes right into the kids’ turtle sand box.
The bag of lime I bought will be useful for the next couple of years, a little goes a long way.
So the total price here doesn’t exactly reflect what it cost to fill my boxes, in reality, it costs a lot less.
Humus & Manure
3 cubit feet
8 dry quarts
1 cubit foot
.5 cubit foot
.75 cubit feet
If I had just bought the bagged soil, I would have spent more and had zero product for future use.
The bottom line? I had to triple my own recipe to fill my box. But I prefer making soil in smaller batches.
After thoroughly mixing my dirt and shifting through it, I was so pleased I decided to make my own.
Both the quantity and quality exceeded my expectations, much better and cheaper than the store bought version.